Panic! Brings A Wicked Disco

On August 5, Panic! at the Disco rolled into Tulsa’s BOK Center as part of their Pray For the Wicked Tour. The show was sold out and fans at the top of the nosebleeds were just as excited as those on the floor.

Panic!’s only remaining member, lead singer Brendon Urie, belted out the band’s hits and songs from their latest album “Pray For the Wicked.” A far cry from the band’s start as a blink-182 cover band turned rock/alternative/emo band, “Pray For the Wicked” is a glossy pop-rock album with heavy Queen and Frank Sinatra influences and the tour encapsulates that progression.

Ten minutes before the show started, a countdown clock appeared on the towering screens on stage and was met with so much screaming, you’d think the band had appeared. The energy in the room for those 10 minutes was so infectious that it bubbled over and filled the entire arena.

As the countdown hit zero, a six-piece band of three strings and three brass rose up out of the stage to a deafening roar of screams, followed by drummer Dan Pawlovich. Moments later bassist Nicole Row and guitarist Kenneth Harris walked onstage to begin the opening for the first song, “(F—k A) Silver Lining.” Just seconds later, Urie popped onto stage from a “toaster,” which literally pops him out from below the stage, onto the top circle of the band’s triangular cult symbol-esque logo stage.

The screams grew louder throughout the song, but quickly turned to singing along by the second song, “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time.” 

The energy and electrifying visuals carried on throughout the two-hour set. The triangular logo stage featured trap doors, risers and the toaster, allowing for surprise entrances and discreet exits for Urie and the backing ensemble/band.

Urie never stopped moving the entire show, keeping everything high energy and essentially proving the accuracy of the band’s song “Dancing’s Not A Crime.” There was no shortage of stunning falsettos, embellishments and powerhouse vocals through the night as Urie was obviously in his element.

The 27-song setlist featured Panic!’s recognizable hits from the past 14 years, including eight songs from this year’s Pray For the Wicked album and covers of Bonnie Raitt‘s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Recent hits “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” and “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” were paired with favorites such as “Miss Jackson,” “LA Devotee” and “Victorious.”

To the delight of some and despair of others, old favorites had been pared down to make room for the band’s new material. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and “Nine In the Afternoon” were the only remnants in the setlist of the band’s early albums, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Off” and “Pretty Odd,” respectively. Similarly, “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)” and “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” were the only songs from “Vices and Virtues,” the last full album with two of the four original members.

At one point, Urie appeared on the floor, making his way from the main stage to a smaller platform at the back. The journey, coined the “Death Walk” by Panic!’s crew, saw Urie walking through the crowd, excitedly giving high fives, hugs and saying hello to fans while never missing a beat on “Death of a Bachelor.” It was hard to tell who enjoyed the walk more – Urie or the fans.

Phone flashlights glittered around the bowl as Urie sat on a purple-lit platform, playing a gleaming white piano as he floated over the audience. He talked about how he was a hyper child and his mom would sing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” to calm him down. This part of the show, as Urie explained, was his chance to calm down in the midst of a high energy performance.

After singing a portion of the song, Urie effortlessly transitioned into “Dying In LA”. During the backstage tour, Hall had said that if someone didn’t at least tear up during the song, something must be wrong. This proved to be true for a large portion of the crowd and myself, as the performance proved to be both moving and awe-inspiring.

“Girls/Girls/Boys” was met with an array of light and a rainbow of colored dots, as fans held heart-shaped papers to their phone flashlights from the floor to the top of the bowl. Before the show, fan volunteers passed out hearts around the arena, something that has become a tradition for Panic! shows as the song has evolved to be an LGBTQ+ pride anthem.

A similar concept was done during “This Is Gospel,” however, the colorful lights came from pink stars. Urie dedicated the song to Laura Ratley and Rebecca Fulcher, who had been killed in a traffic accident on their way home to Kansas after Panic!’s 2017 concert in Tulsa.

Describing Urie’s vocal talent is difficult due to its uniqueness and range; imagine a blend between Frank Sinatra, a show-stopping lead on Broadway and a punk rock frontrunner. As showcased during the set, Urie drifted between smooth, svelte crooning, belting out classic and new songs and hitting unimaginable high notes.

As someone who saw last year’s Death of a Bachelor Tour, I can say with certainty that Urie’s vocal ability has expanded after his experience on Broadway. His control during runs was tighter, and the endless amounts of high notes went off without a hitch.

Accented with silver streamers, sparks, flames, gold and white confetti and an impressive light show, Panic! showed that the band knows how to grasp attention and not let it go.

For new fans or those attending their first Panic! show, the night was a breathtaking spectacle that is likely to bring them back for more. For those who have seen the band time and time again, it was a reminder as to why we keep coming back.

Judging the crowd’s response, Urie and his band were a hit with sticklers for the old and penchants for their new sound. While the gritty rock days may be over, the larger than life show and Urie’s bubbling stage persona are here to stay, sold-out arenas and all.

If you missed this year’s show or want to experience the Pray For the Wicked Tour for yourself, the second leg of the tour kicks off in January 2019.

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